The staggering of a pickup refers to the distance between each pole piece (magnet) and its guitar string. The closer a pole piece is to a guitar string, the louder the string will be amplified. A magnet will also exert more magnetic pull the closer it gets to the string, which results in a less “open” sound since the string can’t vibrate as freely. By playing around with the staggering, a pickupbuilder can choose if certain strings get accentuated more than others. This will drastically change the sound of a pickup, especially noticeable when playing chords.
Vintage strat pickups have a type of staggering which is often referred to as “vintage staggering”. This staggering was made to work with guitar strings that were available at that time. Nowadays string manufacturers make their guitar strings much more balanced, making “vintage staggering” less ideal. So no staggering (often referred to as “flat pole staggering”) became optimal for having the best tonal balance between each string when playing chords. However because of the radius of the guitar neck, when you bend one of the higher strings, the distance between the string being bend and the underlying pole piece changes, resulting in less note sustain.
At Heartbreaker we experimented with the staggering of our pickups until we found one that solves the sustain issue and has a good tonal balance between each string.
So if you are more of a chord player, then no staggering would probably be better for you. But if bending plays a big part of your playing style, you’ll find that our staggering will give you an advantage.